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John

ratings
337
REVIEWS
22
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
13
HELPFUL VOTES
182

  • The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated By Mirron Willis
    Overall
    (244)
    Performance
    (155)
    Story
    (155)

    In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, tiny, and eccentric in orbit, it's a wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over Pluto's status, Americans rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog.

    Laura says: "A Light and Still Revealing Read"
    "A Great Value"
    Overall

    If you are looking for a science textbook (as some reviewers of Dr. Tyson's other book seem to be) this is not for you.

    However, if you are looking for something enjoyable you can't wrong for the price Audible is offering this book for. It really is a steal at around, 5 dollars . . . I mean, Unabridged for less than 10? It is (as of this writing) more expensive to buy the real book!

    There is little "advanced" science in this book (most of it you will likely know from middle school), so if you are looking for something to make you "Mr. Smart Pants" in front of your friends, again, not the book for you.

    What you will find in it is a lot of history of science, comments on how we present science to the public, and observations on how the public views science. Dr. Tyson writes it all with wit and charm, which the narrator brings off with a degree of skill.

    If you are looking to be entertained this audiobook is a good choice, and as a bonus you might even take away some new ideas on how information is presented.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Republic of Thieves: Gentleman Bastard Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1227)
    Performance
    (1145)
    Story
    (1149)

    After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover, and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke's own long-lost love. Sabetha is Locke's childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke's life, and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds, Sabetha has just one goal-to destroy Locke forever.

    David says: "A transition and a preface"
    "Was it worth the Wait?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, and now you don’t have to read the rest of my rambling.

    So, it’s been a while since we were treated to a tale about our favorite two conmen, and now we get to meet that legendary redhead we’ve watch Locke pine for over the last two books. She, like any good woman, has been worth the wait. She is strong, smart, confident, and capable. She is Locke’s match in wits and I wish their contest was more drawn out because the back and forth we do get to watch is just grand. And as always, the flashback story is awesome. The young Bastards going off to be a theater troupe and their adventures really make the book.

    I have only one real complaint. Sadly, it’s directed at our Narrator. Page is still great. I still want him as the narrator for the series. For 95% of the book he is as wonderful as ever. . .sadly, that 5% that went wrong involves two of my favorite characters. Father Chains and the Thiefmaker don’t have their old voices; they both sound more like Don Maranzalla. That was really disappointing since their old voices were just so perfect for their physical descriptions.

    Now, the ending, that was just amazing. The epilogue, which is setting up the future plot, is one of those “Did that just happen?” moments. Red Seas under Red Skies left me wanting more because it felt a little incomplete, The Republic of Thieves has left me wanting more from shear excitement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield: Lost Stars, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    Overall
    (698)
    Performance
    (655)
    Story
    (653)

    Following a successful coup, the leaders of the rebel Midway Star System struggle to forge a government free enough to please its citizens yet strong enough to secure power. But in a world where former rulers have become new foes, an alien threat to humanity may turn old adversaries into uncertain allies. General Artur Drakon knows three words describe someone who confides in a Syndicate CEO: Stupid. Betrayed. Dead. Despite his misgivings, he partnered with another former CEO to overthrow Syndic forces.

    Joki says: "Still Great!"
    "The Other Side of the Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’m guessing most people picking up this book have also read the Lost Fleet books, and so now you get to hear Midway’s version of those encounters. That takes up a little less than half of this book and it is fun seeing the other side of that story. I never thought reading about morally ambiguous characters striving to use their talents for good while trying to not admitting to themselves that is what they are doing would be this much fun. Still, maybe more will turn out to be just as selfish as they think they are . . . guess we will have to keep reading.

    Oh, and the revelation at the end of this book is just awesome. If you've become emotionally invested in the characters it will put their relationships in a whole new light. It’s a well placed twist.

    Campbell does a wonderful job of making his power politics as interesting as his space battles. While this was done to a lesser degree in the Lost Fleet series, it really takes stage in this series. It gives these books something fresh and distinguish them from the adventures of Admiral “Black Jack” Geary.

    As a criticism, things are a little repetitive at times. Things we were told not a few moments before get told to us again, and sometimes even a third time. Additionally, we all know by now the mental struggles of our central characters, and like in the Lost Fleet books, the detailed mental deliberations can get a little long winded. Still, we are on book 11 and if this criticism really bothered you, I doubt you’d be reading this review.

    Marc Vietor continues to do a great job with this new series. I loved his readings of both The Black Company and The Nightside. Of course it different hearing his portrayal of Geary and other known voices from the Lost Fleet, but it’s not a huge part of the book and he does well enough that it is not distracting.

    The short of this review is, that if you are a fan of the Lost Fleet/Lost Stars series, you should not be disappointed.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Clockwork Heart

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Dru Pagliassotti
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (19)

    Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus - a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue.

    Eivind says: "Steampunk detecive romance"
    "It's Alright."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    People are getting pickier about what they call Steampunk, so I’ll just hit the major points and you can pick out what sub-genre you want to file this under. The more fantastical element to the story is the lighter-than-air (anti-gravity?) metal that is used in the main character’s wings. It’s also bullet proof; which is amazing when you think of real world metals used in aircraft, like aluminum. On the more scifi steampunk side are the steam and gear computers that run on punchcards that are used in computations I doubt we could do today. However, if you require a Victorian culture to your Steampunk stories, you’ll not find that here.

    The story is alright. It’s formulaic, which isn’t bad in itself, but that is partly the result of the bigger issue I have, which is how forgettable the characters are. They are static and a little flat at times. Changing situation and the exposing of different personality elements to the main character are used as a substitute for character development, and since the characters don’t change, you can easily predict how each new situation will play out.

    However, it has romance, it has mystery (even if it was easy to figure out, but hey, who doesn’t like to feel smart), and it even touches a little on class struggle. The caste system dynamic is interesting and plays a central role to the story, but is sadly not explored in any depth.

    And that really hits the heart of the matter; most folks who go in for SciFi/Fantasy novels love depth to both setting and character. This book has potential for both, but it just doesn’t explore those possible depths.

    Still, if you want some fun steampunkish light reading then you could do a whole lot worse in this emerging genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Bride Wore Black Leather: Nightside, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Simon R. Green
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (303)
    Performance
    (268)
    Story
    (268)

    In the secret heart of London, under the cover of endless darkness, the Nightside caters to anyone with any unusual itch that needs to be scratched. But enter at your own risk. The party animals who live here may be as inhuman as their appetites....

    Bonnie says: "I've been waiting for more NIGHTSIDE!"
    "The Sun will come out tomorrow. . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let me start with the good part. Marc Vietor has been an amazing Narrator for the entire series. If you’ve enjoyed his performance you should give “The Black Company” by Glen Cook or “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons a chance. He has added greatly to my enjoyment of those stories and this one too.

    Now, before we get into the story. This is the end, not the beginning. I would strongly recommend you not pick this book up without having gone through the rest of the series.

    So let’s get to the story, it’s not good even by the low standards I set for the plot of a Nightside novel. Green’s dive into the super natural film noir has had its ups and downs. The setting has always been the best part of the stories and a reason to give the plot a pass when judging the books, but you can tell we’ve run out of new real estate, faction groups, and near-apocalypses that can reasonably be added in. In addition, the main character has grown to be too powerful to be reasonably challenged by anything that isn’t at near-apocalypse levels. Ending the story for the current timeframe isn’t a bad choice at this point, but this ending is far too happy and lovie-dovie for the grim and cynical stories we’ve come to expect. Not that John couldn’t have had a happy ending, but at little to no cost?

    (Spoilers for here on out)

    Everyone turning on the main character isn’t particularly original, but I don’t come here for the originality in plot. However, it seems like everyone (both John and his friends who are now after him) are playing with kid-gloves on. That many powers go head to head and everyone comes out just fine? Now Susie’s betrayal turning out to be a trick to protect John is good and in character for her, but we don’t get to see any of it; the title character of the book (who is one of the most awesome characters in the stories) has almost no face time in the story. Even Julian’s death, which really drives the story and adds some of that grim Nightside element to the story, turns out to be a trick.

    Even if it didn’t happen in the story, in the end, the sun did come up in the Nightside.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Guns of Avalon: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Roger Zelazny
    • Narrated By Alessandro Juliani
    Overall
    (671)
    Performance
    (596)
    Story
    (603)

    Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, Prince of blood royal, heir to the throne of Amber, gathers his forces for an assault that will yield up to him the crown that is rightfully his. But, a growing darkness of his own doing threatens Corwin's plans, an evil that stretches to the heart of the perfect kingdom itself where the demonic forces of Chaos mass to annihilate Amber and all who would rule there.

    John says: "Nobody steals books but your friends."
    "Nobody steals books but your friends."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We can be brief in part, because if you are considering this book, you likely already picked up “Nine Princes in Amber” and if you haven’t I strongly recommend that you do. I am not sure the story will be an easy one to pick up at this point. This story is just as fine as the last, and the journey is as wonderful as I remember. Corwin’s plan to reclaim what he views as his right and revenge himself upon Eric while at the same time struggling with the harm he has done and trying to fit all of this within his new (within the life of an immortal anyway) found morality and empathy drives the story and prepares him for what comes next.

    As for the performance, it’s still better than many I have heard. However, some of the voices are still troubling me. I’m not sure why Texan and Southern accents are slipping into the voices of nobles from Amber and the Courts, but it might be a bit silly to find that troubling. After all, why not? These are people who can travel to any reality and live there for centuries. Still, I found a few of the voice choices at odds with how the character is presented in the story. However, Corwin’s voice is just fine, and that’s the one we hear for most of the tale.

    And remember to be on the lookout for the famous quote that is the title of this review!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Roger Zelazny
    • Narrated By Alessandro Juliani
    Overall
    (1479)
    Performance
    (1328)
    Story
    (1344)

    Amber is the one real world, of which all others including our own Earth are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin's blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne.

    Robert says: "Great book, lame deal!"
    "A Return to Amber"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I feel downright presumptuous to be writing a review for this novel. It is a classic, a keystone, the start of a series that has inspired and shaped the realm of fantasy literature. It is from an era when quality took precedence over quantity. If you enjoy fantasy literature you should give this a try, and even if you don’t enjoy this work, you will at least be able to talk about it when your fellow fantasy nerds start waxing philosophical. Zelazny has been praised by current giants like Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. He is an author’s author.

    Allessandro Juliani gives a solid performance but not outstanding. I’ve heard better but I’ve also heard far worst. Part of the problem may well be that I have lived with these characters in my head for a decade and a half, and so I brought my own view of how their voices sound. I will have no problem continuing the series with Juliani as the narrator, and I have a feeling he will grow on me.

    Now, as had been mentioned, not everyone who liked the first books has the same view on the second set of books (6-10). I enjoyed them just as much as the first. They had a different main character, expanded the abilities of the characters and the nature of the setting, and focused a little more on exploring that growth and so focused a little less on the characters at times. I enjoyed the differences, but I understand not everyone did.

    I am enjoying my own return to Amber, I hope the same for each of you.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • The Crooked Letter: Books of the Cataclysm One

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sean Williams
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    When mirror twins Seth and Hadrian Castillo travel to Europe on holidays, they don't expect the end of the world to follow them. Seth's murder, however, puts exactly that into motion. From opposite sides of death, the Castillo twins grapple with a reality neither of them suspected, although it has been encoded in myths and legends for millennia. The Earth we know is just one of many "realms", three of which are inhabited by humans during various stages of their lives...and their afterlives.

    John says: "Mixed Opinion"
    "Mixed Opinion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's quite a trip. Both in terms of the story and the moments that make you say, "What was the author on and is there any left?" It is hard to talk about the novel without spoilers, as the story takes twists right from the start. We quickly go from Non-fiction self discovery to Crime Drama to Otherworldly Fantasy. The multiverse created for the story is wonderful, the beings we meet are unique and alien, and the author also includes a good amount of human drama. The dynamics of the twins works well, most of all since the physically weaker twin is in the physical world while the less imaginative twin is forced into the spiritual world. This book even manages to have a love triangle that did make me twitch, which is quite an accomplishment on its own.

    However the book is not without issues. The ending is a little Deus ex Machina. You aren't sure that anything the main characters did mattered other than getting from location x to location y, and again, you aren't really sure they played much of a role in that accomplishment. The book ends up being more of a tour than a story. The conclusion is very unsatisfying and while I know the story continues in the next book, that’s not a good excuse for a weak ending. Also, the characters are not always fleshed out well, and so caring about any death in the story is difficult. The traitor in the group is predictable because of how the author tries to hide them. These weakness really do hurt the ability to enjoy the world the author has created.

    I'm not sure if I'll continue the series. It will take a back burner while I read some things on my "must" list.

    As for the performance, Eric Michael Summerer was good, but not overly so. However, I do think he helped the story along.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Go the F--k to Sleep

    • UNABRIDGED (6 mins)
    • By Adam Mansbach, Ricardo Cortes (cover illustration)
    • Narrated By Samuel L. Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11357)
    Performance
    (6770)
    Story
    (6653)

    Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) rocks this mock bedtime story, capturing a hilarious range of emotions as the voice of a father struggling to get his child to sleep. Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland.

    Darwin8u says: "Read the F--king REVIEW!"
    "I'm outraged! (maybe that's not the right word)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got this book for my children, so they would have something new to listen to, and you wouldn't believe how shocked I was went a string of profanity came gushing out into their bedroom . .. I'm kidding! It's a marvelous parody that I've been sharing with my friends and parents.

    Now, if the title didn't give it away, this is not a book for children and there is just a little (read: a lot) of profanity. So, if you're still locked in the past century where profanity not directed at you is somehow offensive, I recommend you not pick this up. Otherwise, grab this and get ready to laugh. Samuel L. Jackson really is the perfect narrator for this.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Nick Landrum
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2670)
    Performance
    (889)
    Story
    (902)

    Dexter Morgan appears to be the perfect gentleman. He is handsome and polite, and has been in a relationship for nearly a year and a half. Yet appearances can be deceiving, for Dexter is a serial killer who has slain many people. But in this tale, he's the good guy, for there is one little twist: Dexter only snuffs out other murderers. When another serial killer, with an eerily similar style, starts grabbing headlines, Dexter has a fairly morbid thought. Am I being challenged?

    V. Sharol says: "Compelling but unsettling"
    "It's good, but short and lacking"
    Overall

    I'm happy with my purchase, as I picked this one up during one of the sales, but I'm not overly sure I'd have been happy with it at full price, and I know I would have been disappointed to have spent a credit here. The pros are the book is darkly funny, Dexter is an amazingly likable anti-hero, the story is great fun, and there is an amazing amount of character development. The down sides are that the story is very short, both in length and in depth, and the ending is very abrupt and not well detailed. The story is good light listening, and those people who can appreciate dark humor are in for a treat. However, this is one of those times where the TV series is strangely more detailed than the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Black Company: Chronicles of The Black Company, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Glen Cook
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1111)
    Performance
    (772)
    Story
    (775)

    Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hardbitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead - until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her....

    Peter says: "Great Story, Narrator Takes Getting Used To"
    "The Framework to a great story is there. . ."
    Overall

    There is a lot to recommend “The Black Company.” The characters, the setting, the situations . . . they are all very interesting. What’s lacking is depth and detail. The story feels very disjointed, almost a listing of events, as we hop from one scene to the next, sometimes jarringly. Also, while the characters are interesting, they aren’t overly dynamic. It’s almost like someone sat down with a D&D group who wanted to play antiheros and recorded their story.

    I’m glad I picked it up during one of the ~$5 sales, it’s not bad, but it’s not something I’d have wanted to spend a credit on. That said, I’ll consider picking up the next one to see if the framework laid out in this book grains flesh in the next and if the prose improves.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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